Topic: “web design”

As of a couple hours ago, my newest personal project has a website. Step Stool, the static site generator I’m writing in Python, now has a home at If you visit the site, you’ll see that, while it looks nice (at least: I think it does), there’s not much to it and most of the links don’t go anywhere. The link that does go somewhere tells you that the project for which the website exists doesn’t actually have any functioning code, yet.2

Step Stool

(That gorgeous logo? Designed by the absolutely brilliant Cameron Morgan.)

So why is it live? There are a few reasons. First, the whole point of the project is my having fun with programming. Web design may not be directly involved in finishing Step Stool, but it definitely scratches the fun itch just as effectively. Second, and more importantly, it’s allowed me to get some time in with other technologies I’ve been interested in for a while – specifically, SASS. I’ve been frustrated with all the problems SASS solves in CSS for a while now, and I’ve known I wanted to just go ahead and learn it for a while. I just haven’t had a project where it made sense – until now. Read on, intrepid explorer →

User Agent Detection Will Get You In Trouble

One of the joys of corporate IT policies is seeing how things break when you’re in an unusual configuration on the web. Like, say, running Firefox behind a corporate proxy that tells every site out there that you’re actually running IE7. This morning, I paused from other tasks to read an article on a well-known religious commentary website, and saw a message at the top alerting me that I’m using an out-of-date version of Internet Explorer (which I would be if I were running IE… but this is on a relatively up-to-date version of Firefox).

Bad enough that for whatever reason our corporate IT has taken to spoofing outgoing traffic this way when routing through their proxies. (One wonders just how much of the reported IE6 or IE7 traffic on the web comes from this sort of thing.) But the real problem is that the site I visited was broken. Horribly, horribly broken.

That message – “You’re using an outdated version of Internet Explorer” – told me why. Read on, intrepid explorer →

Responsive Design, Server-Side Feature Detection, and a Big Mess

A couple days ago, Jason Gigsby (@grigs) highlighted this post by Dave Olsen on responsive design from the server-side. The biggest thing that caught my attention was his focus on user-agent detection for altering the delivery of content.

There is some sensible stuff in there; it’s worth your time. In particular, I can see the value in delivering different kinds of resources to different targets, especially in the case of video or images, where resolution and bandwidth may be constrained. Read on, intrepid explorer →

Death to vendor prefixes!

In the last few years, there has been an explosion of development in the HTML and CSS specs, much of it driven by browser innovation. As early as 2007, Apple began pushing out vendor-specific prefixes to support CSS properties not yet in the open specification. Other browser developers have followed suit, so that there are now each of -o (Opera), -ms (IE9+), -moz (Mozilla/Gecko rendering engine), and -webkit (Safari and Chrome). Read on, intrepid explorer →

Introducing: Ligatures-plus.js

A few months ago I ran across Chip Cullen’s absolutely fantastic ligatures.js – a very simple jQuery function that manually replaces character pairs or triplets with their corresponding unicode ligature. There was just one problem: to use the function, you had to manually test each of the characters you wanted to use against the target font. This is potentially a lot of work, especially if you have multiple custom fonts on your page. Read on, intrepid explorer →

Keyboard quality matters

I spent much of the day today working on a slightly older model HP Compac laptop.

To be as plain as I can: the keyboard was utterly atrocious. To say the keys are mushy is an understatement. To say the designers lacked a sense of aesthetic pleasure would only be slightly less obvious than to say that they had no concept of the value of ergonomics. Read on, intrepid explorer →